When Johnson Brothers was founded in 1883 by Frederick and Alfred Johnson, their goal for their Staffordshire pottery was to produce an earthenware called “White Granite,” which is marked on many early pieces as “SEMI PORCELAIN.” It was a great material for dinnerware because it looked like china but was as tough as ironstone. As it turned out, though, White Granite would not be the product for which Johnson Brothers would become best known.

By 1888, Frederick and Alfred’s elder brother, Henry, had joined the company, which produced its wares in a factory called the Charles Street Works in Stoke-on-Trent, as well as at two other facilities nearby. By the end of the century, the family’s fourth brother, Robert, joined his siblings from a satellite office in New York, the number of Johnson Brothers potteries would climb to five, and the ware for which the firm would become most famous, transferware, would be added to the line.

With Robert drumming up sales in America, Johnson Brothers products were soon selling well in the United States, where transferware and flow blue porcelain were very popular. The quality of the ware was unquestioned, but the company’s mid-range pricing made it easy for people to fill their cupboards with Johnson Brothers products.

In the early part of the century, the sons of the brothers joined the firm to lead sales efforts across Europe. After World War I, during the 1920s, a new colored clay called “Dawn” was introduced—it came in gray, rose, green, and gold. By the end of the decade, several Johnson grandsons had also joined the firm.

Flow blue patterns produced by Johnson Brothers in the early years of the 20th century included Albany, Astoria, Brooklyn, Claremont, Clarence, Clayton, Del Monte, Dresden, Eclipse, Florida, Fulton, Jewel, Montana, Neopolitan, Normandy, Oregon, Oxford, Pansey, Peach, Pekin, Persian, Princeton, Richmond, Royston, Stanley, St. Louis, Tokio, Tulip, Venice, and Vienna. Later, in the teens and early 1920s, Andora, Argyle, Coral, Georgia, Holland, Kenworth, Mongolia, Savoy, Sterling, and Turin were introduced.

Most Johnson Brothers marks from those years had a crown on them, some with squared-off corners. The pattern name was sometimes printed with quotes around it, but more often it went without.

Beyond flow blue, Johnson Brothers produced numerous transferware patterns for its plates, platters, and pitchers. The firm is most often associated with patterns featuring wild ...

The 1930s saw the shuttering of the company’s original Charles Street Works and the replacement of its traditional coal-fired “bottle” kilns for all-electric tunnel versions. With a Depression on, it was a good time to modernize in the hopes of better days ahead.

After World War II, pieces in the Friendly Village pattern were widely sought, as were the company’s Christmas plates. By the 1950s, cups and saucers in the Carnival line featured bold solid colors and cups with tapering bases. The look was very Mid-century Modern, which was a long way from the company’s aesthetic roots. Finally, in 1968, unable to remain independent any longer, Johnson Brothers joined the Wedgwood Group.

About our sources | Got something to add?

▼ Expand to read the full article ▼

Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

Thepotteries.org

Thepotteries.org

Steve Birks' super deep site is a tribute to a bygone era, chronicling how a pottery center of excellence (they did… [read review or visit site]

The Bowes Museum: Ceramics

The Bowes Museum: Ceramics

This gallery showcases highlights from the 5,000 items in the museum's ceramics collection dating from 1500-1900. I… [read review or visit site]

Ceramics at The V&A

Ceramics at The V&A

A great reference on ceramics from the Victoria and Albert Museum. Learn about different ceramics techniques and st… [read review or visit site]



Clubs & Associations

Most watched eBay auctions    

Antique Johnson Bros. Staffordshire Flow Blue Pitcher "stanley" Very Nice Paragon China Cup & Saucer Large Red Rose On Blue Artist Signed R. JohnsonBeautiful Johnson Bros Windsor Ware Harvest Fruit 10 3/4'' PlateVintage 50 Pc. Johnson Bros England "friendly Village" Set For 8 Fine ChinaVintage Set Of 6 Johnson Brothers Bros Strawberry Fair 7.75" Pink Square PlatesJohnson Brothers Blue Willow Tea Pot With Lid England Tableware Great ConditionMassive Johnson Brothers His Majesty Turkey Platter Made In England Perfect Cond4 Antique Johnson Brothers Turkey Dinner Plates His Majesty Made In EnglandJohnson Brothers Old Britain Castles Pink Egg Cup + Salad Set - Spoon & ForkHoward Johnson's Individual Creamer Caribe China Stagecoach Excellent VintageJohnson Bros Brothers Coaching Scenes Gravy Boat Ironstone Coach Office 8 Pc Made In England Johnson Bros Indies Ironstone Set4 Antique Johnson Bros Turkey Dinner Plates His Majesty Made In EnglandJohnson Brothers Old Britain Castles Pink 4 Toast / Sandwich Trays With CupsThriftchi ~ Johnson Brothers Ironstone Coaching Scenes Cups & SaucersJohnson Bros Staffordshire Old Granite Fruit Sampler 9" Casserole Bowl W LidJohnson Brothers Flow Blue Rare Dorothy Pattern Set Of 5 Dinner PlatesJohnson Brothers Flow Blue Rare Dorothy Pattern Set Of 5 Salad PlatesStaffordshire Old Granite Johnson Bros Brothers Fruit Sampler Large Teapot W LidJohnson Brothers Devon Cottage Dinner Plates Set Of 6 Brand NewSet Of 4 Johnson Brothers "coaching Scenes" Ironstone Soup Bowls - EnglandBlue Willow China, 5 Dinner Plates, Johnson Brothers England, Vintage Set Of 7 English China, Ironstone, Church Hill, Royal Stafford, Johnson Bros,Johnson Bros China Strawberry Fair Plate Square Vintage Red TransferwareWonderful Set Of 12 Johnson Brothers Butter Pats - Exceptional Find~johnson Brothers - The Friendly Village - The Village Green - Platter - L@@k~~Vintage Elegant Johnson Bros Eng Pareek Dinner Plates W Gold Filigree Set Of 8 Johnson Bros England Rose Chintz 3 Platters 11 7/8", 131/4", 15 1/2" - Red MarkJohnson Brothers Fish Series Gravy Boat With SaucerFriendly Village Creamer Cream Pitcher & Covered Sugar Bowl Johnson Bros EnglandJohnson Brothers The Road Home Tab Handle Cake PlateJohnson Brothers Enchanted Garden Red Set Of 6 Dinner PlatesJohnson Brothers Old English Victorian Chintz Serviing Platter TraySet Of 8 Johnson Brothers Staffordshire Fruit Sampler Soup Cereal Bowls 6 1/4" Johnson Brothers Enchanted Garden Red Set Of 10 Bread & Butter PlatesJohnson Brothers Blue Willow Cup And Saucer (4 Sets) England. Mint! Lot 3 Johnson Brothers Punch Mugs Friendly Village The Ice House Cups 8 Oz.Friendly Village Johnson Brothers Mug Cup 3-1/4" Set Of 3 England Decal Inside2 Vintage Dinner Plates 9-3/4", Johnson Bros China, Blue, Coaching Scenes Blue Asiatic Pheasant Tea Kettle By Johnson Brothers✔ 1 Johnson Bros White Regency Swirl Creamer Ironstone England Johnson Brothers "wild Turkeys Native American" 10 1/2" Dinner Plates - Set Of 4Antique - Johnson Bros England Pareek Dark Blue / Gold 8 Dinner Plates Johnson Bros 3 Tier Serving Plates Sugar Maples-willow By The Brook-schoolhouseJohnson Bros Old English "hampton" ~ 6 Square 7½" Salad Plates ~ Good Cond.Christopher Johnson Brothers Collector Blue Willow Pitcher Teapot Handpainted Johnson Bros Flow Blue Saucer In The Hard To Find Dorothy Pattern Set Of 54 Friendly Village The School House Dinner Plates Johnson Bros England 10"Johnson Brothers Lunch Salad Plates (6) "garden Bouquet" Windsor Ware EnglandJohnson Brothers Blue Willow Dinner Plate 10.25" Made In EnglandVintage By Johnson Bros. Named Goldendawn Tea Setting For Four Made In England ✔ 4 Johnson Bros White Regency Swirl 10" Dinner Plates Ironstone England Set Of 4 Johnson Brothers "coaching Scenes" Ironstone Salad Plates - EnglandJohnson Brothers Enchanted Garden Red Covered Serving BowlVintage Johnson Brothers Apple Harvest Cereal Bowls Lot3 Sets Of Blue & White Johnson Brothers Coaching Scene Cups & SaucersJohnson Bros England Snowhite Regency Oval And Round Serving Bowls IronstoneJohnson Brothers England 1883 China: Willow Blue: 4 Square Salad Plates: Exc: NrGame Birds Wild Turkey Plate Johnson BrothersJohnson Brothers Enchanted Garden Red Open Serving Bowl